The Experimental Cinema Of The Philippines (ECP) founded in 1982 was housed at the enormous Manila Film Center (MFC). The ECP , under Imee Marcos and later, Johnny Litton wanted to upgrade the film industry and encourage the creation of better films. It established a Film Fund, which gave partial financial assistance to what it considered were artistic film projects such as Moral (Seven Stars Productions, 1982) and Haplos (Mirick Films, International, 1982). Second, it operated the Film Ratings Board (FRB), a 27-person body which evaluated films and gave 50% tax rebates to films Rated A and 25% to films which were given a B rating such as A for Batch '81 (MVP Pictures, 1982), Broken Marriage (Regal Films, 1983) and Karnal (Cine Suerte, Inc., 1983), and B for Cain At Abel (Cine Suerte,Inc., 1982) and Sana Bukas Pa Ang Kahapon (VIVA Films, 1983). Third, it created an Alternative Cinema Department which planned and managed film literacy programs, training workshops and screenwriting contests. The winners of the first scriptwriting contest were later produced by the ECP namely, Himala (1982), Oro, Plata, Mata (1982), Soltero (1984) and Misteryo Sa Tuwa (1984). Fourth, it opened a Film Archive to oversee the gathering and conservation of Filipino films from the past and the present. Finally it managed the Manila International Film Festival (MIFF) after its dry run in 1981.
Iniated by then First Lady Imelda Marcos, the 1982 and 1983 MIFF featured an International Film Competition, an Asian Film Retrospective, a Critics Choice Module for Filipino Film Classics and a Film Symposia featuring international film artists, and technicians and a Film Market. Unfortunately, inspite of its good intentions, the ECP was short-lived. As early as 1983, industry insiders had observed that the ECP was not working out as it should be because it had no coherent philosophy and no specific objectives for its offices and consequently, ran programs which overlapped or came into conflict with programs of other film entities. By 1984, ECP's operations were hampered by a number of problems. The Film Fund was fast running out so it no longer gave out assistance but loans. Even these loans turned bad when the Film Fund failed to collect P11 million in loans from independent producers. The FRB on the other hand was accused of turning elitist in its choices and was further saddled with P12 million in amusement taxes that could not be collected from theater owners. For its part, the MIFF was criticized for its extravagance and for failing to open an international market for Filipino films. Moreover, the MIFF soon acquired the reputation of being a festival of porno films. Subsidy for the 1983 MIFF was withdrawn by the government three weeks before its start from Entertainment Philippines, a private corporation created by the ECP which took care of expanding the MIFF venues to 157 theaters where uncensored films like The Victim (Pacific Film Productions, 1982) were shown to millions of moviegoers. The 1983 MIFF became a huge commercial success earning a whopping P53 million. The negative public reaction to these porno films however, prompted then President Marcos to confiscate them after the MIFF and to abolish the festival altogether.
Finally, the ECP itself began to produce and propagate sex-oriented films. When President Marcos reduced the subsidy of ECP from P17 million in 1983 to P5 million in 1984, the institution was forced to look for its own sources of support to keep the MFC in operation. Taking advantage of its 100% exemption from taxes, ECP produced sexually explicit films like Snake Sisters (Celso Ad Castillo & Associates, 1984) and Isla (VIVA Films, 1984) which was shown uncut at the MFC, a venue exempt from censorship. The ECP tried to clean up its image with the screening of a re-spliced Manila By Night (Regal Films, 1980) and promised to do the same with the banned Sakada (Sagisag Films, 1976), but cynics believed that like a gremlined machine, the ECP was breaking down long before it had worn out its warranty. The latter half of 1985 exploded with the showings of Scorpio Nights (Regal Films), Company Of Women (Athena Productions, Inc.) and Hubo (FLT Films International). Critics howled through the various media with the more violent ones calling for the pillorying of Johnny Litton whose change of post from Deputy Director General to Chief Executive Officer in mid-1984 gave him full responsibility for the three ultra-bold films. There were about twenty sexually exlplicit quickies produced in the hope of an MFC screening. Even if these movies could be shown only in three screening rooms of the MFC, investments were assured of a 100% return, not only of the high marketability of bomba but also due to reduced expenditures. Producers only had to make three prints instead of 18 at P45,000 per print for a commercial run in 40 theaters or more. In addition, they did not have to go through the usual hassle of collecting from theater owners who were notorious for late remittances. Profits gained from a later showing of the censored version on the commercial circuit was added gravy on top. No wonder Mother Lily forfeited a showing of 250 theaters for Scorpio Nights.